Back in 2013 I decided to make my long-lasting dream come true to „do something with nutrition“. At the beginning of this month, my training as a nutritionist finally began. With my profession as a pharmacist I regard this as a good combination and it is consistent with my predilection for working with people and helping them concerning health issues. As long as I can think back, I keep myself busy with cooking, eating, nutrition, … and during my studies I have additionally learned a lot about the background: chemistry, human biology, etc.
So, after having passed the first days of my training, I am quite surprised and impressed of how much I still don’t know about nutrition! First of all I must state, that there are quite a lot of people who are even more nutrition-conscious than I am – I didn’t think so! People who were forced to change their whole way of eating for health reasons. Other people who just discovered, that they felt much better when leaving certain things out or adding other things. And others again who avoid any animal products by conviction or who buy their food exclusively in the health food stores. During the first training days, I have felt pretty much as a „beginner“, but motivated in a positive way. And I am already eager for the next part of my training! It is not only about how to help others, but also about reflecting myself and my way of living.
One of the contents of the first part was vegan cuisine, another thing I had not been familiar with before. Moreover, I had not been aware of the variety and possibilities of vegan cooking. If you know how, you can eat very balanced without lacking any nutrients. Instead of eating meat, you can get your proteins by eating leguminous plants and soy products. Nuts and whole grain contain a lot of iron – which is absorbed in a better way, when being combined with vitamin C. Calcium is in many green vegetables, in sesame seeds or in some mineral waters… This is what vegan cuisine should be about – not only leaving animal products away, but replacing them in a meaningful way.One of the critical nutrients is vitamin B12 which is nearly exclusively in animal products. This is one of the nutrients which must be strictly monitored and probably taken with dietary supplements. For my share, I cannot imagine a life without meat or dairy products, but I have gotten a lot of input about choosing my food more consciously and being more critical and choosey at all. And this is a vegan dish I tried out lately on one of those hot days:
Bulgur salad with red lentils
- 125 g red lentils
- 75 g medium Bulgur
- ½ bunch of spring onions
- 1 red pepper
- 1 medium-sized red onion
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1-2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp of Ajvar (spicy version – you should get this in every bigger supermarket)
- 2 tbsp of tomato paste
- 25 ml of olive oil (native)
- 2 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of Harissa paste (an arabic paste of different spices)
- a dash of salt
- 1 tbsp of cumin (grounded)
- some grounded pepper
- Boil up the lentils in un-saltet water and continue boiling them lightly for further 10 minutes. Cook the bulgur according to the instructions on the packet.
- Clean all the vegetables. Cut the spring onions into fine rings. Cube the red onion and the red pepper (the onion very finely). Chop the parsley and the garlic, also very finely.
- Cut tomatoes into small cubes, discard the seeds.
- Mix the oil with the Ajvar, the lemon juice, the tomato paste and the spices.
- Mix the lentils and the cooked bulgur and add the spice mix when the bulgur is still warm. Finally put the herbs and the vegetable mix in a bowl and add the bulgur – lentil mix. Mix well and let it brew for 1 hour or longer.
This is a perfect refreshing summer dish which you can vary in many ways: With raisins, roasted nuts, fresh mint, chopped ginger, cubed and roasted egg plants, finely sliced button mushrooms… You can eat it as a main dish but it is also a perfect side dish e.g. for barbecue (don’ t let the vegans know 😉